Friday, 1 January 2016


R.I.P. Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister - 1945 - 2015  
Photo: Ross Halfin
 Lemmy has died. If anyone personified "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" it was Lemmy, flipping the bird and having another Jack and coke. The lyric from "Ace Of Spades" - in many ways the definitive Motörhead song - "That's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever!" is a fitting epitaph. He made it to 70 - rock'n'roll lifestyle intact, but he had switched to vodka for "health reasons", with a knowing wink of course - and as recently as two weeks ago he was still doing what he did best. Lemmy lived to get up on the stage and kick ass with his Rickenbacker bass, cowboy hat, aviators turned toward the sky with a defiant snarl on his warted face, belting out those songs that spoke of the simple things in life - women, whiskey, war, and above all rock'n'roll. Heroes die. But the power of rock'n'roll as embodied by Lemmy in those songs - "everything louder than everything else" - will reverberate like the ringing in your ears after one of their concerts, deaf forever. 

Lemmy: born to lose, lived to win!

Friday, 27 February 2015


24 February 2015
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne 

I first heard Godflesh when I was 17. Their crushing brand of down-tuned riffs, pummeling industrial beats, caustic vocals and paranoid ambience really spoke to me, coming as I did from the bleak landscape of small-town New Zealand. Their albums Pure and Streetcleaner formed a perfect teenage soundtrack for the urban anomie of the provinces. This week I finally witnessed them live, and it was as revelatory as that first listen some 15 years ago.

Having reformed about five years ago after the band initially disintegrated in 2002, Justin Broadrick and Ben Green have recorded new material in the form of the Decline and Fall EP and the full-length A World Lit Only By Fire. These recordings continue the crushing path that Broadrick and Green forged on their initial releases - fueled by a fiery aggression and an almost primitive minimalism that does away with any modernist trappings in favour of pure power. 

This was Godflesh's first club show in Australia, supporting industrial metallers Ministry. The show had sold-out in a day and unsurprisingly the Corner Hotel was packed by the time Justin Broadrick and Ben Green took the stage. Their set was somewhat compromised time-wise by the support bill status, but it certainly did not lack the bludgeoning intensity that defines Godflesh's sound, or for that matter, the atmospheric visual imagery that is a fundamental part of their live set-up. 

The triple-punch of "Like Rats", "Christbait Rising" and "Streetcleaner" opened the set, which consisted of tracks from Streetcleaner, Pure and Selfless. Finally hearing these iconic songs live was incredible, with Broadrick pouring every ounce of energy into delivering them. The way he incorporates feedback into his playing is one of the distinctive things about the Godflesh sound, with Green's bass providing the immense heft that drives the songs. A raging "Tiny Tears" gave way to a short feedback segue into "Spite", which sounded absolutely huge as Broadrick and Green riffed over the classic drum break. 

Despite the songs they performed being over 20 years old, they still sound incredibly fresh and vital. The mechanised nature of the drum machine imparts a rigidity to the music, but there are some undeniable grooves that lurk under the surface, particularly on tracks like "Mothra" and the title track from Pure. As a great version of "Crush My Soul" from Selfless ended the set, the dismay of the room was palpable - but Broadrick was clearly appreciative of the huge response. It would have been great to hear a few of the new songs so hopefully the band will return this way for a headlining tour. 

One of the things that I took away from this crushing show was how absolutely timeless Godflesh's music is. Forward thinking in 1989, still relevant today - long live Godflesh! 

Like Rats
Christbait Rising
Tiny Tears
Crush My Soul 

More photos here

Friday, 30 January 2015


8 August 2014
The Hi-FI Bar, Melbourne

Neurosis have long been creating heavy and uncompromising music that refuses to be constricted in any way. The breadth and depth of their back catalogue is a testament to that: boundless experimentation and constantly shifting textures and sounds are dynamically anchored to pummeling rhythms and seismic riffage. Although subsequent bands have taken this approach and made it their own to varying degrees, let's face it; Neurosis did it first on albums like Souls At Zero, Enemy Of The Sun and Through Silver In Blood. Blending passages of sludgy riffs, dark and angry vocals reciting philosophical lyrics and poly-rhythmic drumming with ambient interludes and a great knack for sampling film dialogue and found sound into sonically immersive atmospheres. 

Indicative of their stubborn refusal to compromise, when their longtime visuals operator Josh Graham left shortly after the release of recent LP Honor Found In Decay the band simply didn't replace him, allowing the darkness to replace the light(s) and simultaneously drawing the focus from the band to the music. Graham's visuals had long been a part of Neurosis' live presence, adding further textures to the songs as they were performed, in a way not dissimilar to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's flickering films. Obvious statement alert: Neurosis are not a group given to running around the stage doing machine gun guitar poses like Iron Maiden. They remain relatively static throughout, but so utterly absorbed in performing this intense music that their presence becomes transfixing. When Steve Von Till or Scott Kelly sing into a microphone, they fucking mean it. 

The band were in phenomenal form: taking their time under low light to draw out the beginning of opening bars of "At The End Of The Road". What struck me most was the sheer dynamism of the band and how ferociously tight they were. Passages of brooding ambiance were shattered by roaring guitars, thunderous drums and bass and intensely raging vocals. "Eye" followed, a rarely played cut from Through Silver In Blood that gave bass guitarist Dave Edwardson a chance to perform some vocals. The set drew heavily from Honor Found In Decay, the newer material sounding just as richly honed but with a distinct psychedelic flair on "At The Well" and "My Heart For Deliverance". 

I'm not sure if I've seen keyboards played with the intensity that Noah Landis brings to them, clinging to them like they are bits of ballast from a sunken ship. Von Till and Kelly prove to be brilliant foils for each other as guitarists, between their immense array of pedals are quite contrasting approaches - Von Till is the more psychedelic and ethereal player, whereas Kelly is beholden to the riff and crushes forward with maximum fury. Jason Roeder's drumming alternated between tribal rumble and subtle pulses, the end of "Bleeding The Pigs" showcasing his flair for dramatic timekeeping amongst heavy noise salvos. A highlight of the show was the title track from Given To The Rising - an epic song that brilliantly showcases the evolution of their particular sound across 9 minutes. 

"The Doorway" concluded what was an epic show, the band losing themselves in total free noise abandon as the song collapsed into grinding industrial static. The crowd were left wanting more, though Roeder had began dismantling his kit as they feedback drew to a crescendo. So it goes. Encore or no, few would dispute that what they had witnessed was nothing short of astounding. 

More photos here.

Friday, 13 December 2013


Illustration by Chris Simpson / Witch Ghetto

I think I listened to more metal this year than any year previously ... a given considering the name of the blog, obviously, but I've always had a pretty broad taste in music. My focus seemed to narrow a bit this year round. I don't know, perhaps I'm feeling a tad more misanthropic, or maybe the fact I got to worship at the Iommic altar when I saw Black Sabbath in April, or possibly I've just found myself listening repeatedly to some of what I consider to be some damn fine albums released in 2013, that also happen to be by made metal bands! 

I was asked to do a top 5 for a NZ music site that I occasionally write for so I turned to the "most played" function in Itunes to determine this list ... I did cheat slightly as I don't have the Agents of Abhorrence album in a digital format but I spin it all the time, and I still need to get the Mammoth Grinder and Altar of Plagues albums on LP (yeah, yeah I know... only vinyl is real, rockers!), but here is a largely statistics-based list:

Agents Of Abhorrence - Relief

Mammoth Grinder - Underworlds
Nails - Abandon All Life
Altar Of Plagues - Teethed Glory And Injury
Power Trip - Manifest Decimation 

Other honourable mentions include great albums by Obliteration, Agrimonia, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Beastwars, Darkthrone and Baptists. 

On the live front in 2013, there's been some off-the-chain shows here in Melbourne. A brief chronological list:

Old Man Gloom/Converge
Black Breath
Midnight/Sadistic Intent
Boris performing Flood
Municipal Waste
St Vitus
Lightning Bolt
Church of Misery

Anyway, a good way to end the year on the blog is to compile a mixtape of some of - in my humble opinion, of course - the best metal released this year. There's a couple of classic Slayer tracks in there too, in honour of the gone but not forgotten Jeff Hanneman. Thanks also to Chris Simpson at Witch Ghetto for letting me use his absolutely great illustration for this piece. So without further ado, the inaugural Heavy Metal Friday The 13th: 666mas Mix! (Apologies for the lack of Agents Of Abhorrence on the playlist! Get the record!


1. Obliteration - Goat Skull Crown (Black Death Horizon)
2. Altar Of Plagues - God Alone (Teethed Injury And Glory)
3. Agrimonia - The Battle Fought (Rites Of Separation)
4. Baptists - Soiled Roots (Bushcraft)
5. Darkthrone - Valkyrie (The Underground Resistance)
6. Power Trip - Manifest Decimation (Manifest Decimation)
7. Mammoth Grinder - Paragon Pusher (Underworlds)
8. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mt. Abraxas (Mind Control)
9. Slayer - Die By The Sword (Show No Mercy)
10. Beastwars - Realms (Blood Becomes Fire)
11. Nails - Abandon All Life (Abandon All Life)
12. Moss - Horrible Night (Moss' Horrible Nights)
13. Slayer - Angel Of Death (Reign In Blood)

Friday, 8 November 2013


On Saturday October 26th, I made a pilgrimage that all self-respecting doom-heads should attempt to make at least once in their lives: I saw SLEEP.

They were playing as part of ATP Release The Bats in Melbourne, a festival that had been beset by numerous problems (Jesus Lizard cancelled, a last-minute venue change from the middle of nowhere to two different venues in St Kilda, general bellyaching) but on the day, as it happened the setbacks really didn't matter. Sleep were due to headline the smaller stage, located at the Prince Bandroom on Fitzroy St, and as I perused the line-up for the day, there weren't any major clashes and the band directly before Sleep were Rhode Island noiseniks Lightning Bolt, who are a totally awesome live band.

Lightning Bolt proceeded to pack the Prince out and play a great, frenetic and crushingly LOUD set that got the kids truly riled up. The crowd dispersed somewhat before Sleep took the stage, allowing me to get a good spot at the front of the stage. The somewhat ridiculous onstage set up for Lightning Bolt was actually scaled back somewhat, the stacks of bass subs replaced by a couple of Ampegs and a Marshall, and two Marshall Stacks stage left. 

The band strode on stage and waited patiently for the PA to be turned off, vocalist and bass player Al Cisneros mumbled a "we are honoured to be playing music for you" to applause and guitarist Matt Pike launched into the crushing, droning riff that opens "Sonic Titan." What followed was a pulverising and hypnotising performance, the band driving forward on lumbering riffs that would ultimately settle into glacial grooves. Drummer Jason Roeder proved the perfect foil to the slowly shifting molasses of sound, with an almost deconstructionist performance around the kit as the tempos - and time itself - slowed down. 

This kind of doom isn't noted for involved dynamics. It works largely with extremely loud tones that hit perfectly with high gain and enveloping bass frequencies, low on high-end but making up the space in the top of the range with epic soaring solos courtesy of High On Fire main-man Pike. There were plenty of moments where the songs flowed into a kind of quiet, muted majesty, Roeder keeping the pulse with subtle flourishes, before the riff returned to take us on another journey. Cisneros has mellowed his vocal approach somewhat from his delivery on the old Sleep records, but they still sounded powerful on lines like "Trapped inside a world under leagues of ocean / The clergy arrives with the magic potion" from "Aquarian". 

Much of the material they performed was from Holy Mountain, including the epic title track. The great "Dragonaut" and "From Beyond" also featured alongside another old track never officially released, "Antarcticans Thawed". The last part of the set was reserved for excerpts from their magnum opus, Dopesmoker. By this point, the band and the crowd were bound together as one by the almighty power of the riff and their set wound up going over their allotted time-slot - not that anyone could possibly complain about that! It was a magnificent show, and much like the ringing in my ears, one that will continue to reverberate for much time to come. All hail the mighty Sleep!

Sonic Titan
Holy Mountain
Antarcticans Thawed
From Beyond
Dopesmoker (Cultivator/Improved Morris)

Friday, 26 July 2013


OK, here's a bunch of short reviews because I can't be bothered waxing lyrical about anything. The moral of the story is, the new Agents Of Abhorrence album is the shit, so go get it!

Agents of Abhorrence - Relief (
Psychocontrol Records/625 Thrashcore)
Holy shit! The first time you listen to some albums, you know, before the first song is over, that you are going to have to listen to it again and again. This was my experience with the latest album by Melbourne grind geniuses Agents Of Abhorrence, I sat down and listened to this record three times in a row. It's a relentless, uncompromising, and blasting beast of an album that captures the brutal intensity of the band's live show. As well as A+ tunes, Relief features killer production, great artwork, and its pressed on bronze vinyl. Fuck yes! I can't recommend any particular song overall, because the whole thing is basically a flawless masterpiece. Grind 'til death, rockers!

Power Trip - Manifest Decimation (Southern Lord)

The logical follow-up to classics like Reign In Blood and Seven Churches, if 2013 was actually 1987 in an alternate universe. This album has it all: utterly crushing riffage, gang vocals, ripping leads that betray obvious debts to Hanneman (RIP), reverb covers the whole thing like it was recorded in a gnarly death metal cave, and cover art that is fucking incredible! "Conditioned To Death", "Crossbreaker" and "The Hammer Of Doubt" are all massive tunes, the kind that probably open up mosh pits that resemble the portals of Hell in a live forum. Let's face it, everything probably did sound better 25 years ago, but with Manifest Decimation, at least Power Trip are able to capture the essence of that time without being recklessly regressive.

Melvins - Everybody Loves Sausages (Ipecac)

Melvins are fucking excellent at covers: "Goin' Blind" from Houdini, "Youth Of America" from Electroretard, "Rambling Man" from The Crybaby. All awesome! They can basically do justice to anything they try, which is the difference between most other bands' cover albums and the Melvins. So this album comes as no surprise, and the cool thing about it is they enlist their pals to provide guest vocals. We get to hear Jello Biafra doing "In Every Dream Home A Heartache" by Roxy Music and Jim "Foetus" Thirlwell doing a Bowie impression on "Station to Station." Also featuring turns by Scott Kelly of Neurosis doing Venom, Mark Arm from Mudhoney doing the Scientists, and Amphetamine Records owner Tom Hazelmyer (also of Halo Of Flies) doing the Jam, the unifying thread between the disparate material (Queen to Divine to the Kinks to Throbbing Gristle) is the fact that this was clearly a totally fun record to make!

Friday, 5 July 2013


Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance (Peaceville)

Darkthrone Fucking Darkthrone! These guys are basically the conscience of true metallers worldwide, posers be damned! Case in point: Fenriz's Band Of The Week blog is well worth checking out if you are looking for something new to listen to, whatever your preferred style. This has proved such a success that the Live Evil festival, devoted to keeping the old school metal flame alive with acts culled from the BOTW blog, has been running in London for the past couple of years. So; Darkthrone are like Renaissance men of modern day heavy metal, armed with the kind of knowledge that makes really good musicians great - beyond just knowing about the history, they are an entrenched part of it, and the role that Fenriz plays as a heavy metal taste-maker is much less a intellectual position than just wanting to share all these ripping bands he has heard from across the globe. The whole Darkthrone back-story doesn't need repeating here: A Blaze In The Northern Sky, Under A Funeral Moon, and Transilvanian Hunger are all absolutely essential metal albums! However, after continuing to release quality BM after the turn of the decade, Fenriz and Nocturno Culto began to incorporate elements of crust punk and NWOBHM into their music. This continued until their most recent album (2010's Circle The Wagons) which was essentially an out-and-out old school heavy metal record, with a heady mix of punk attitude and NWOBHM anthems! The Underground Resistance continues in that fine tradition, although the more punchy punk-rock side of things has been somewhat sidelined by a more traditional heavy metal approach. "Dead Early" storms out the gate with a fuzzy intro riff before a massive bass and drum pound begins. The main riff is classic, timeless heavy metal, done in a style that could only be Darkthrone's. On "Valkyrie", Fenriz finally unleashes the soaring, epic vocals he has teased on their previous albums. Nocturno Culto leads some forays into doomier material ("Lesser Men", "Come Warfare, The Entire Doom"), but there is no room for the blasting grimness of their earlier material. The whole album just feels like a tribute to the vintage heavy metal styles of the 80's. This is nowhere more apparent than the mammoth track "Leave No Cross Unturned", which twists and turns through 13-odd minutes of epic riffage that basically leave you wanting more. Considering that many of these songs had their genesis back in 2009/10, hopefully this means that new material from the band will be forthcoming. At any rate, The Underground Resistance seems to encapsulate some kind of "eternal now" for Darkthrone - they can help pioneer a whole genre, and some twenty years later they can return to the styles that inspired them in the first place.

Baptists - Bushcraft (Southern Lord

Axe-weilding takes a literal place on the cover of Vancouver band Baptists' debut full-length Bushcraft. A double-exposure of a dude hacking into a tree trunk, it captures the raw power that this album possesses. It is a wild 28 minute ride, and if the overall flow of the album is anything to go by, these guys probably put on a totally awesome live show. From the blistering d-beat onslaught of "Betterment" to the almost Jesus Lizard-style noise rock groove of "Still Melt", Baptists cover a wide range without losing their singular identity. Recorded by Converge's Kurt Ballou, like many recent great hardcore and metal albums, this album sounds absolutely huge. The guitars razing a furious metallic blues swathe across the crushing drums, as best evidenced on the title track, which undergoes a myriad of transitions over its two and a half minute length. "Soiled Roots" is a another great slow-burning slice of noise rock, the aggression holding back during a creeping midsection. Unsure of where to put your metalcore records? Burn them all, then make a shelf for "kick-ass hardcore and metal LPs". Make sure Bushcraft is in there.

Speaking of fantastic metallic hardcore, Milwaukee act Enabler are embarking on a tour of Australia, with Melbourne band Urns in tow.

All shows $15 on the door.

Wednesday 3 July – TBA, Byron Bay AA
Thursday 4 July – Crowbar, Brisbane 18+
Friday 5 July 5 – Hermann’s Bar, Sydney 18+
Saturday 6 July – Black Wire Records, Sydney AA
Sunday 7 July – Yours & Owls, Wollongong AA
Tuesday 9 July – Croatian Wickham Bowls Club, Newcastle 18+
Wednesday 10 July – The Pot Belly Bar, Canberra 18+
Thursday 11 July – The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne 18+
Friday 12 July – Black Goat Warehouse, Melbourne AA
Saturday 13 July – The Enigma Bar, Adelaide 18+ 

Check out the title track from their great 2012 full-length, All Hail The Void